the OUUC spark

May 11, 2023

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Taking Time for Perspective - Rev. Sara Lewis

This past weekend I had the joyful duty of taking seven of our youth on their Coming of Age Retreat. We went camping together, and all of the youth observed 24 hours of silent reflection vigil time. This gave them all time to deliberately reflect on the big questions of life and on this time of their lives. Holding space for the youth in this way is one of my favorite things to do.
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We all need that time in order to gain deeper perspectives, to find a vision of the bigger picture, and yet most of us don’t structure our lives in ways that give us that time. We are often focused in the weeds, dealing with the details of life, or resting in ways that distract or numb us. Our attention is grabbed, our eyes are glued to the computer or the phone or the TV or we are just nose to the grindstone keeping busy and productive. It’s hard to keep a sense of vision this way.

The spiritual practice of Retreat is similar to that of a Sabbath - taking a time apart from ordinary time. And any of us can do some kind of retreat, whether we have time or resources for something fancy or whether we do something simple. Travel can be one kind of retreat, leaving your daily concerns to go and experience something completely different. Organized retreats at retreat centers can be another lovely way to do a retreat, and there are so many different kinds out there. But these also could be retreats:

  1. Taking a long walk (alone or with someone else)

  2. Camping, hiking, getting out into nature in almost any way

  3. Taking a book and holing up somewhere to read

  4. Taking a long train ride

  5. Going to a museum, concert, or festival

  6. Visiting family or friends

  7. Going on a service trip

A retreat could be months long, weeks, a weekend, a day, or even just a few hours. There are so many ways to bring this practice into your life. One thing that worked for me when I had little kids was to arrange for childcare or a playdate for my kids, and then to take my books and my journals to a coffee shop. Now in this new season of my life without little kids, my favorite is to go for a hike or to take my book to a park.

If you want to add a retreat to your practice, here are a few tips I think will help:

  1. Set an intention. Be intentional that you are “on retreat” and be intentional of what you want to focus on and what you will be doing.

  2. Mark the beginning of your retreat time in some ritual way. Sometimes it is helpful to ritually “lay down” all the things you might otherwise be distracted by. Put your out of office email response on, turn off your phone notifications, write down your worries and then fold them up and put them in an envelope. Let it go, at least for now. Change your clothes, put your briefcase away in a closet.

  3. Pick your time, place, and companions in such a way as to support your intentions.

  4. Capture your insights, take-aways, and visions from your time apart in some way. Journal, paint, record yourself talking to yourself on your phone, or any other method that works for you.

  5. Mark your re-entry into “ordinary” time in some way as you come out of retreat. Step over a threshold, put your everyday clothes back on, turn your phone back on. But maybe don’t be too quick to pick up your burdens again. Let yourself tread lightly back into it all.

You don’t have to just take my word for all of this. Here are some other writers who have shared good ideas about how to create your own retreat:

Personal Retreats: Your Guide to Hitting Reset (

Don't Know What You Want? 10 Simple Steps for Creating a Personal Vision Retreat | HuffPost Life

May we all find the time and perspective that we need for our vision to come into focus.

The Tiny Little News Show

May 8th, 2023 Tiny Little News Show

Thank you for a successful auction!

Thank you to everyone who “came together” to support OUUC’s online and in-person auction. We are pleased to report that we raised more than $38,000!

This success is only possible with significant participation. We had 225 auction items, 179 bidders (online and in person), and 120 people who attended the live auction!

The “raise the paddle” generated $4,500 (reflected in the auction total) for the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly Delegate Fund that will help pay costs for OUUC’s delegates attending GA this year and into the future. Local congregational participation at GA is crucial in order for each congregation to have a voice in UUA direction and priorities.

Thank you again to our generous donors, ambitious bidders, dedicated auction team, artists, decorators, vocalists, volunteers, and the staff for supporting this great event!

5/14 After Service Forum: The Proposed OUUC Budget

If you are someone who likes to know the numbers and dive deep into the details of the OUUC congregational budget, this forum is for you!

One of the tasks for the annual congregational meeting on May 21 is voting to adopt a congregational budget for the July 2023-June 2024 congregational year. The staff, Rev. Mary and the Board have been hard at work for several months preparing a budget. At their meeting on Thursday, May 11, the Board will adopt a draft budget to bring to the congregation. Then we’ll post and send out information for anyone to review for the May 14 forum.

In short, here’s the timeline:

May 11, 7 pm - Board meeting, Board adoption of draft budget

May 12 - Board approved draft budget posted for members to see

May 14, 11:30 am - after-service forum on the budget

May 21, 11:30 am - annual congregational meeting to vote on the proposed budget

How we allocate our resources is how we live our values. Thanks for engaging in this important practice.

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Download the flyer below if you would like a list of OUUC events for May. Great for posting on your refrigerator! Looking for more upcoming events? Go to the OUUC Calendar.